Most of us take time off from work at some point in our careers. Maybe you took a year out to travel or to spend more time with your family. Or maybe you quit your most recent job because it wasn’t for you. This is perfectly acceptable, but unexplained employment gaps in your CV can result in recruiters passing on you as a potential employee. Despite this, if dealt with in the right way, employment gaps can actually play a positive role in your CV. But how do you achieve this? How do you explain these gaps in your CV in a way that doesn’t negatively impact your applications?
Start by thinking about the positives of your employment break. Think about the valuable experiences you gained during your travels or the caring nature you demonstrated while looking after an ill family member. Maybe the time away from employment gave you a valuable opportunity to reflect on your career and learn more about yourself. Whatever reason you might have for your employment gaps, turn them into something positive.
After scratching beneath the surface of your employment gaps, you will find you have a whole range of positive attributes, experiences and skills to use. Include these in your CV in the relevant section. You have now turned your irritating career gap into something that demonstrates your capabilities as an employee.
However, while demonstrating the positive aspects of your employment gaps, you should also be honest and clarify specifically why you were unemployed. Be simple, clear and professional. Try to get your point across in an unbiased manner. This will demonstrate your honesty, ensure the recruiter understands the situation and improve your chances of succeeding with your applications. Remember, periods of unemployment are normal. Most people encounter times in which they are not in work. With this in mind, be honest and you will likely earn the respect of the reader of your CV.
Make it clear that the reason for your unemployment has ended. You don’t want the recruiter wondering whether these issues might cause you to take leave from employment again in the near future, so clearly specify that you are ready to commence work and take it seriously.
If possible, detail the ways in which you have stayed current with your industry. Whether it's undertaking training, attending events or reading industry-related newspapers, highlighting the ways you have maintained a knowledge of the happenings within your industry demonstrates your commitment.
If you have been made redundant, or even fired, don’t go into detail about the actual redundancy or firing. Highlight what you were doing during the period of unemployment.
In some cases, however, you don’t need to draw attention to your employment gap. If you’re gap is a short one – under a few months – you can simply remove the months from the dates on your CV. For example, if you left your job in February 2013 and started your next job in December 2013, you can include the dates for both positions as 2012-2013 and 2013-2014. This way, there is no indication of an employment gap and you have remained completely honest. Including months on CVs isn’t always necessary. In fact, here at CV Nation we only include the months on CVs if the client is operating on a contract basis.
Finally, if the employment gap took place more than 10 years’ ago, you don’t need to explain it. Generally, your previous 10 years of work experience is sufficient for your CV and you don’t need to go into detail on anything beyond that.